Page 51. " He had two large parties in his house at the time; the largest of which was the Revolutionist faction "

This faction comprised supporters of the contemporaneously-named ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688. Fears surrounding the Catholicism of King James II (VII of Scotland) came to a head when he fathered a son and the prospect of a Catholic succession seemed altogether too likely. Both Whigs and Tories united on this issue and invited the Dutch William of Orange and his consort Mary (who also happened to be James’s daughter) to England. William’s army invaded the country and, in the ensuing battles, James’s deserted him, whereupon the monarch fled to France. This was treated as an abdication and the Protestant William III and Mary II were installed in his stead. After their ascendancy, the Bill of Rights was established, ensuring that never again would a monarch be able to curtail the religious and social freedom of his or her subjects.

William and Mary, detail from the ceiling of the Painted Hall
Public DomainWilliam and Mary, detail from the ceiling of the Painted Hall - Credit: James Thornhill



Page 51. " our young tennis-players, and their associates, who were all of the Jacobite order "

The Battle of Culloden, 1746
Public DomainThe Battle of Culloden, 1746 - Credit: David Morier

Jacobitism was a movement which arose as a reaction against the happenings of the Glorious Revolution. Jacobites supported the return of the Stuart dynasty to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. They asserted that monarchs had a divine right and were answerable to god alone, and that hereditary rights were inalienable. Motives for this were myriad and both political and religious motivations were brought to bear. Many who opposed the Union identified with Jacobitism. The movement was effectively crushed by the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

Page 51. " some youths of the Cavalier, or High-Church party "

I.e., those with Royalist and Catholic sympathies.

Page 53. " The town-guard was now on the alert "

The town-guard was a law enforcement body that carried out the function of an armed local police force. It consisted of three large companies, each of which was presided over by a lieutenant. Edinburgh’s guard was established in 1682 and was responsible for maintaining order in the city until its dissolution in 1817. Notoriously inefficient, the guard is described thus by Robert Chambers:

"Composed for the most part of old Highlanders, of uncouth aspect and speech, dressed in a dingy red uniform with cocked hats, and often exchanging the musket for an antique native weapon called the Lochaber axe, these men were (at least in latter times) an unfailing subject of mirth to the citizens."

Page 53. " two companies of the Cameronian regiment "

Monument dedicated to the Rev'd Richard Cameron and 8 fellow Covenanters who were killed and buried at this spot in July 1680
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMonument dedicated to the Rev'd Richard Cameron and 8 fellow Covenanters who were killed and buried at this spot in July 1680 - Credit: Walter Baxter
The Cameronians were an extreme faction of the Covenanters who were led by, and later followed the teachings of Richard Cameron (1648-1680). They were strongly opposed to any control of the church by the state in general, and to the establishment of the Episcopalian Church in Scotland in particular. In 1680, many signed the Sanquhar Declaration which called for war against Charles II and attacked Covenanters who had accepted the royal indulgence he offered. The reaction to this led to the persecution and martyrdom of thousands of Presbyterians for holding Cameronian views. By 1746, however, the movement had gathered in strength and numbers sufficient to form a presbytery, known as the Reformed Presbyterian Church. This continues amongst the seven Presbyterian denominations active in Scotland today.

Page 53. " the Hon. Captain Douglas "

James Douglas, Earl of Angus, raised up a regiment in support of William III from amongst the Cameronians in 1689. He named this the Earl of Angus' Regiment and installed himself as Colonel. Following the accession of William III, it was incorporated into the British Army as the 26th (Cameronian) Regiment of Foot.

Page 54. " the lord-commissioner thought proper to go to the council-chamber himself "

The holder of this office was at this time James Douglas, Duke of Queensbury. See note for p. 45.

Page 54. " accompanied by the sheriffs of Edinburgh and Linlithgow "


Google Map

Linlithgow is an ancient town in the central Scottish lowlands. It lies roughly 20 miles to the west of Edinburgh.

Page 55. " Set thou the wicked over him "

The verses that follow are an abridgement of Psalm 109, which can be read in its entirety here. The chiming of this psalm’s vengeful sentiments with Robert’s own is clear.

Page 56. " they were to meet on the Links for a game of cricket "

The origins of cricket are obscure. Some historians have suggested that it was played in England in some form as long ago as the 12th or 13th century. Certainly it was well established there by the end of the 17th century, but the sport isn’t thought to have arrived in Scotland until it was imported by English soldiers after the 1745 Jacobite rebellion (see note for p. 106). Either George and his friends are fashionably in advance of their times, or this is an anachronism on Hogg’s part.

Page 59. " bound to the Grey-Friars to see his sweetheart "
Greyfriars Kirkyard, 1848
Public DomainGreyfriars Kirkyard, 1848 - Credit:David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson

Greyfriars Kirk, now home to the congregation of Greyfriars Tolbooth and Highland, is a parish church in the centre of Edinburgh. Founded as a Presbyterian church in 1620, it was here that the Covenanters signed the National Covenant in 1638 (see note for p. 38). There’s a certain irony in this edifice of stern morality being used for the purposes of a romantic rendezvous.


Page 59. " In the gallery of the Parliament House "

Stained glass window in Parliament House depicting the institution of the Court of Session by James V in 1532
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeStained glass window in Parliament House depicting the institution of the Court of Session by James V in 1532 - Credit: Ronnie Leask
Parliament House was built for Charles I in the 1630s to house the pre-Union Parliament of Scotland. After Scotland unified with England, the Parliament adjourned and the building began to be put to other uses. These days, it houses a variety of legal courts.

Page 61. " he arose to make an excursion to the top of Arthur’s Seat "
Arthur's Seat
GNU Free Documentation LicenseArthur's Seat - Credit: David Monniaux

Arthur’s Seat, which lies at the centre of what is now Holyrood Park (also known as Queen’s Park and formerly King’s Park), is the highest peak in Edinburgh. The 823 ft. high hill, the site of an extinct volcano, is said to resemble a crouching lion keeping watch over the city. Known for its wild beauty, it resonates with folklore and has been immortalised in the writings of Scottish novelists and poets including Richard Gall and Sir Walter Scott.

Page 61. " he went by the back of St Anthony’s gardens, and found his way into that little romantic glade adjoining to the Saint’s chapel and well "

St Anthony's Chapel, 1843
Public DomainSt Anthony's Chapel, 1843 - Credit: William Miller

St Anthony’s Chapel stands in Holyrood Park just at the foot of Arthur’s Seat. Now a ruin, it is thought to have fallen into disuse and dereliction after the Reformation.

Page 61. " he beheld, to his astonishment, a bright halo in the cloud of haze, that rose in a semi-circle over his head like a pale rainbow "

 This phenomenon is known as a glory, an optical effect which occurs when light is scattered backwards through individual water droplets. It can be seen when the sun shines upon cloud or mist that lies beneath the observer and resemble shimmering rainbow haloes around the viewer’s head. As a shepherd, Hogg had witnessed and marvelled at this effect many times and wrote a wonderful account of it entitled ‘Nature’s Magic Lantern’. 

A glory recalls the halo used to denote holiness in religious iconography, such as this image of St John the Evangelist. In the novel, this divine manifestation around George contrasts with the malignant shadow associated with Robert.


Page 62. " that deep dell that separates the hill from the rocks of Salisbury "

Salisbury Crags
GNU Free Documentation LicenseSalisbury Crags - Credit: David Monniaux
The Salisbury Crags are a series of imposing rocky cliffs which lie to the west of Arthur’s Seat.

Page 62. " He saw, delineated in the cloud, the shoulders, arms and features of a human being of the most dreadful aspect "

This occurrence is known as a Brocken spectre, named after a peak in the Harz Mountains where it is often sighted. It usually appears in conjunction with the glory and is caused when the sun casts an observer’s apparently magnified shadow onto the bank of clouds opposite. The size distortion is an optical illusion resulting from the clouds’ obscuration of familiar reference points, and its effect is deeply uncanny. In ‘Nature’s Magic Lantern’, Hogg describes how, when he first witnessed his magnified shadow in this way, it “at first appeared to my affrighted imagination as the enemy of mankind”.


This video clip shows the otherworldliness of the Brocken spectre.

Page 67. " if he would go with him to a mountain of his father’s, which he named, in Aberdeenshire, he would show him a giant spirit of the same dimensions "
This view from the Stuic near Lochnagar typifies Aberdeenshire’s hilly landscape
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThis view from the Stuic near Lochnagar typifies Aberdeenshire’s hilly landscape - Credit: Pete Chapman

Aberdeenshire is an area (a county until 1975) located on the north-east coast of Scotland. Crisscrossed with numerous rivers and burns, the hilly countryside would have provided an admirable place to view the spectacle which Adam Gordon describes.

Page 68. " one coming breathing burning coals of juniper, and casting his lightnings before him "

Psalm 120: “What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper.” Even more pertinently, Adam Clarke notes in his biblical commentaries that The Chaldee has, ‘The strong, sharp arrows are like lightning from above, with coals of juniper kindled in hell beneath’". The verse is a plea for freedom on the part of the Jews who were kept in bondage and slavery and it is with them whom Robert wrong-headedly identifies himself. Typically, he aligns himself with the vengeful aspects of a verse which contains the words “I am for peace”, which Robert is avowedly not. Coals of juniper were thought to retain their heat the longest and so represent a brutal punishment.

Page 71. " the whole party should adjourn to a bagnio for the remainder of the night "
1787 caricature of prostitutes congregating in the doorway of a bagnio (180 * 240)
Public Domain1787 caricature of prostitutes congregating in the doorway of a bagnio - Credit: Library of Congress

A bagnio is a brothel. Due to the increase of sexually transmitted diseases, the growing emphasis on sexuality as part of romantic love and the changing moral climate brought about by the Reformation, prostitution was increasingly frowned upon. Tracts of this time abound in images of prostitutes as degenerate seducers who have violated the terms of female propriety and as pernicious hives of disease. Unsurprisingly, less judgment was levelled at the men who continued to seek their services. Even so, the way the Editor skims over this episode without comment strikes the reader an act of omission.

Page 72. " I will bet a hundred merks that is Drummond "

Merk from the reign of Charles II, minted in 1671 at Edinburgh
GNU Free Documentation LicenseMerk from the reign of Charles II, minted in 1671 at Edinburgh - Credit: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.

A merk was a Scottish silver coin in circulation from the late 16th century into the 17th. Its value was 13 Scottish shillings and four pence.

Page 72. " a little washing-green at the side of the North Loch "

1764 map of Edinburgh showing the location of the North Loch.
Public Domain1764 map of Edinburgh showing the location of the North Loch. - Credit: John Rocque

Washing-greens were public areas where freshly-washed laundry was hung out to dry. Laundry was generally the responsibility of serving women in households wealthy enough to maintain them.

Page 73. " this young man was second son to a John, Duke of Melfort "

John Drummond, 1st Earl of Melfort, 1681-8
Public DomainJohn Drummond, 1st Earl of Melfort, 1681-8 - Credit: Isaac Beckett

Thomas Drummond is the offspring of the 1st Duke of Melfort, John Drummond. This Scottish peer was a supporter of James II and had fled to France with the fallen monarch in the wake of the Glorious Revolution (see note for p. 51). James made him Baron Cleworth in the Jacobite peerage of England in 1689. Six years later, the Scottish authorities stripped him of this title and formally destroyed his coat of arms at the Edinburgh market cross. Controversy continued to pursue the Duke and his name was a regular feature of the session of 1703 (see note to p. 45). Thomas Drummond was the second son of his second marriage; he went on to become an officer under Charles VI.

Page 73. " a Lord of Session "

Lords of Session were judges within the Court of Session, Scotland’s supreme civil court.

Page 74. " he entered into the service of the Emperor Charles VI "

Charles VI was the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire and sovereign of the Habsburg Empire. He was not crowned until 1711 so, although Thomas Drummond did indeed enter into his services, this detail would seem to be an anachronism.